I have finally, FINALLY finished editing ‘Knowing When You’re Too Young to Grow Up’. Now, I have to find the time to send it out. And not screw up anything as I have in the past.
As I mentioned in “A Reintroduction: The Prologue,” I intend to post edited chapters every few weeks. Here’s a sample from Chapter 5. As always, feedback is STRONGLY encouraged via the contact tab or comments section.
He wasn’t real.
It was a dream.
All of it was a dream.
That’s what it seemed like in the museum – that I wasn’t awake – when Pete and Tommy practically had to drag me down the street to St. Peter’s Basilica. Now, I’m here in the church, the drug having worn off but still feeling like a queasy bag of shit, more strung out than those junkies outside Grand Central Station with their pitiful dogs. This is why I never take pills, I think, walking through archways adorned with idols and statues of saint this and that.
I don’t know where Pete or Tommy or anyone else went although I have an idea where one of them is. Besides Becky. She’s to my left sketching something – a dove it looks like, fluttering through a towering, Gothic canopy. At its base is her own personal touch, the Balaam crest – a torch with the Latin I can’t read – wooden, dignified, and old.
In so many ways, Becky’s not like the rest of us. She doesn’t have a car, a designer backpack, or even a cell phone, I think. After school, she works at the Walmart right down the block from Balaam. The girl had to fundraise to get to Italy, for Christ’s sake.
For someone I never considered a friend, I’ve spent more time with her than my actual friends. I like her, not in that way, but she’s real and I wish I cared to know her earlier on, outside of scoring class work off her. And she does this crazy thing when you talk to her: she listens, and she doesn’t do it because of who you are or what she can gain by doing it; she does it because she cares about what you’re saying.
“Here, we have one of my favorite pieces, the Baldachin,” Glenn beams, “which, let me tell you, was Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s first piece–”
“Sounds like balls-on-chin, man.”
“Sorry, man, I mean Ms. Benevo.”
“You might know Bernini from his father, Pietro Bernini, who’s best known for his Fontana della Barcaccia or The Fountain of the Old Boat? In the Piazza di Spagna?”
Nothing frivolous from Mrs. Weary. Not a sound from anybody.
“The Spanish Steps? Trinita dei Monti Church? No, doesn’t ring a bell? Well, don’t fret. Our last day in Rome, that’s where we’re going; then, it’s off to Florence!”
Not even a false nod.
Until Melissa shouts out, “Glenn, over here!” Shushes echo throughout the church, but she’s unfazed. “It’s, uh, like important!”
Everything about Glenn’s slumping body language exudes skepticism. As much as she probably wants to ignore that stupid arm flapping around with more fervor than a first grader, she instead humors her. “Yeah, hun, what is it?”
“Oh, umm,” the moron says, distracted by her brightly-painted nails but determined to sound intelligent, “I was, uh, just wondering, like what time is lunch?”
“Gee-whiz,” Glenn sighs, her face more pained than Jesus’ on the crucifix.
Becky shakes her head. Even the Italian hanger-ons who are catching a free-tour giggle. And they don’t understand English.
“Well, anyway, it’s made entirely of bronze, one of the largest bronze pieces in existence, and it took Bernini a total of nine years to complete.”
On cue, Mrs. Weary beams, “That’s remarkable, Glenn, absolutely remarkable!” before she’s back to cheerleader tryouts and hair braids with her girlies.
“And did you all know, 99 oil lamps burn consistently from morning to night as a way of paying homage to the patriarch of the church.”
“But, um, what about my–”
“And, gosh, how can I forget about the legend of St. Peter’s tomb? Let me tell you, when Pope Pius XI died in 1939 and he requested to be buried in the grottoes with countless other past popes, a massive excavation began. During this dig,” she says, trying to come off spooky, “two stories below us, archeologists discovered an empty tomb engraved with ‘Petros eni’ or ‘Peter is here’.”
This is where someone should ask if St. Peter’s remains were ever uncovered or even who St. Peter was since Bags is probably the only one who knows. But no one does. They’re all too busy doing the same things they always do.
Tommy’s still nursing those boobs.
Michelle’s still grandstanding to whoever will listen.
Melissa’s still saying stupid things.
And Pete and Benevo, they’re still dancing to their own song.
Copyright (C) 2017 Andrew Chapin